Industry Icon Anne Ballard Prepares for Retirement, Final Speaking engagements

Posted by Modern Storage Media on Feb 7, 2024 3:43:54 PM

This year marks a significant and poignant moment as Anne Ballard, known worldwide as "The Hat Lady," steps away from the speaking circuit and at years’ end will be fully retiring. Universal Storage Group is inviting industry professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, and self-storage enthusiasts to seize this final opportunity to experience Anne's dynamic and insightful presentations in person.


Ballard and the Universal Storage Group team have compiled the best strategies for self-storage success, distilled from years of experience and innovation. This knowledge will be imparted in her upcoming speaking events, offering a unique chance to learn from a legend in the field, such as she and the USG team did in 2023 with the very successful Pearls of Wisdom tour. This wildly popular educational tour celebrated the company’s 30-year anniversary, giving out strands of genuine pearls at each speaking engagement. 


In 2024, the company will launch the Right Time Tour, reminding everyone in the industry that it’s always the right time to learn more and be successful. With over 10 specialized seminar topics available to state, national, and international associations and to private companies, the Right Time Tour will inspire and motivate teams, and will feature giveaways of stylish multi-functional timepieces.


Legacy of Excellence and Future Endeavors

While stepping back from speaking engagements, Ballard's legacy will continue to influence the industry. Her contributions have not only shaped current practices but have also laid the groundwork for future innovations in self-storage management and marketing. 


“I am so incredibly proud of the team and my partners at USG,” says Ballard. “Having spent three-plus decades focusing on marketing, training, and facility design, I will end this year with the knowledge that a great team is in place to continue our work for this wonderful industry.”


Anne's presence has left an enduring impact on all who have had the privilege of working with her. In anticipation of this transition, USG implemented a comprehensive strategy over the past two years to ensure the seamless continuation and enhancement of services. The elevation of Sarah Beth Johnson and Lou Barnholdt to the positions of Vice Presidents of Sales and Development adds significant strength to our leadership team. Paired with the seasoned expertise of Vice President of Marketing and Training, Stacie Maxwell, this dynamic trio will adeptly continue the responsibilities of national and state association engagements, as well as speaking opportunities and the origination of numerous articles and reports, as Anne has been well-known for.


The strategic decision to have Stacie, Sarah Beth, and Lou continue to collaborate with Anne during this transitional period not only emphasizes continuity but also underscores our commitment to preserving and perpetuating Anne's wealth of knowledge and expertise. As they flex into their new roles, Sarah Beth and Lou will draw upon Anne's wisdom and methodologies, working with prospective and new clients, designing cutting-edge storage facilities, and providing consulting services and industry-leading feasibility studies. Concurrently, Stacie will continue leading USG’s award-winning marketing and training teams with innovations and ever-evolving programs designed to help all managers and operators achieve success.


The seamless teamwork between these talented professionals ensures that Anne’s legacy of excellence will not only endure but flourish as USG continues to deliver the highest standards in all facets of our operations.


Join USG in Celebrating Anne Ballard

USG is extending invitations to celebrate Anne Ballard's remarkable career and to take advantage of this final opportunity to learn from one of the industry's most influential figures. For more information on Anne Ballard's speaking schedule, the Right Time Tour, and how to attend her final events, please reach out to USG at or visit


About Anne Ballard

President of Marketing, Training & Developmental Services, and a renowned figure in the self-storage industry. Known as "The Hat Lady" for her distinctive headwear, Ballard has been a pivotal force in shaping the self-storage landscape through her innovative strategies and inspirational leadership.


Anne Ballard's illustrious career spans over three decades, marked by her influential roles, including serving on the SSA Board of Directors and as a two-term Past President of the Georgia Self Storage Association. Her voice has resonated at state, national, and international conferences, leaving an indelible mark on industry professionals and enthusiasts alike.


As the author of "The Hat Lady Speaks: Marketing and Managing Self-Storage" and countless influential articles, Ballard has been a beacon of knowledge and expertise. Her foundational role in establishing Universal Management Company in 1993, which evolved into her partnership with Universal Storage Group, showcases her visionary approach to self-storage management, facility planning, and operational consulting.


Universal Storage Group is the winner of an impressive thirteen (13) MSM Facility of the Year Awards. Additionally, USG has accumulated nine (9) Inside Self Storage Best of Business Awards for Best Manager Training, as well as awards for Best of Business in Operational Consulting and Best of Business in Third Party Management. No other management company in the self-storage industry has laid claim to so many accolades, nor have they been led by such a dynamic and influential icon as Anne Ballard, The Hat Lady.



MSM will be featuring Anne in an upcoming edition of messenger. in the meantime, Read more about Anne in MSM's exclusive interview from 2023: Women in Self-Storage: Anne Ballard